68 Ventures' federal lawsuit against the City of Fairhope has been dismissed, but the company is now preparing to present the case in state court.

"68 Ventures intends to continue its lawsuit against the improper actions of the City of Fairhope and the City of Fairhope Planning Commission by filing in Alabama State Court in Baldwin County in the following week and asking for an expedited court date on the State specific issues outlined by the Federal Court," said Adam Campbell, president of 68 Ventures.

68V BTR Holdings, LLC (68 Ventures), a large development company in Baldwin County, claims the city’s denial of plans to build two multi-occupancy housing complexes was unconstitutional.

A federal judge ruled that three counts alleged in the federal lawsuit are valid state causes of action. Those three counts were the invalidation of Defendants Arbitrary and capricious Denial of building applications, State Due Process violations by the Defendants and the defendants' negligent actions in denying the building permits.

"As stated by the Court, in its order, it is judicially economic for the remaining State claims to be handled in State Court as the parties and the properties are all present in Baldwin County, which is where any action would be filed," Campbell continued. "Litigation in that forum therefore cannot be meaningfully less convenient than litigation in Mobile County. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C section 1367(c), the Federal Court should not retain jurisdiction to the said Counts 1,2 and 3."

The two proposed properties are outside Fairhope City limits but in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction, which means the City regulates zoning based on an agreement with Baldwin County.

The Skyline Village property is approximately 16.5 acres along Dyer Road.

Dyer Road Alabama News
Skyline Village property. (Google Maps)

The Gables on Lawrence property is approximately 20 acres along Lawrence Road.

Lawrence Alabama News
Gables on Lawrence property. (Google Maps)

68 Ventures bought the properties after speaking with city officials and planning commission members on how to meet the requirements for developing them. The company then hired multiple contractors, consultants, designers and others to work on the properties to ensure they met all requirements.

While the federal judgment states that conversations between people accused of conspiring were held, there is no proof of the topic of those conversations.

Summary Judgment by Erica Thomas on Scribd

Campbell said the judgment was not surprising and that the attorneys were prepared to move forward.

"Given that the properties and actions of the parties occurred in Baldwin County, and involve significant issues of Alabama property law, it was not unforeseeable that the Federal Court would rule in this manner," he said. "Therefore, we are fully prepared to litigate this matter in State Court."

"68 Ventures looks forward to presenting these matters to a jury in Baldwin County so that the full actions of the City of Fairhope and the Fairhope Planning Commission are openly and honestly set before a jury of their peers," he continued. "This case is simply about equal justice and the rights of every American to enjoy the property rights provided by the State of Alabama."

Fairhope Mayor Sherry Sullivan said she was thankful for the federal judge's verdict.

"It has taken a lot of time and resources for the City to defend this lawsuit," Sullivan stated. "I am especially thankful to clear the name and actions of several of our volunteer planning commission members who did not deserve to have their integrity challenged. The staff and our attorneys at Hand Arendall Harrison Sale did a great job putting together our defense. We know there is the possibility of further litigation in state court and an appeal but hope we can all move forward so the City can devote its time and resources to something more beneficial for our community."

68 Ventures, based in Daphne, is the parent company for multiple development and investment businesses along the Gulf Coast.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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